New state law battles opioid and fentanyl overdoses

Fresno County Health Director Dr. Rais Vohra demonstrating how to administer NARCAN at fentanyl awareness news conference on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Courtesy of Clovis PD Facebook)

January 24, 2023: As students return to school, California’s new state law to battle opioid and fentanyl overdoses on college campuses takes effect January 1.

​​​​Naloxone Distribution Project (NDP) and SB 367 attempt to reduce the issue throughout California community colleges and California State Universities.

The NDP aims to address the opioid crisis by providing free naloxone to schools requesting the medication, while Sb 367 approved August 29, requires health centers on campuses to carry the medication.

Naloxone, known as Narcan, is FDA approved and works by blocking the effects of opioids.

It’s available in an easy to administer nasal spray, Dr. John Zweifler, medical consultant, Fresno County Department of Public Health said.

“You just put a spray in a nostril and if it is an opioid overdose, it will help them wake up within a minute or two,” Zweifler said. “If it doesn’t work the first time, you could do a second dose in the other nostril.”

California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard shows there were 7,175 deaths from opioid overdose with 5,961 deaths related to fentanyl in 2021. Over 20,000 emergency department visits alone were from drug related overdoses.

Fentanyl, one of the many opioids, a powerful synthetic opioid medication used to treat severe pain is becoming more common among those with addiction, and the cause of many overdoses.

Micheal Prichard, staff analyst for Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health said fentanyl is easier to get because it’s made in a lab versus heroin that is made from a poppy. It’s an increasing threat because it’s more potent than heroin, Prichard said.

“The problem with Fentanyl is that because it is so potent, any dose can potentially be lethal if the proportion of fentanyl to other additives is not correct, and so every time you’re using fentanyl, you’re playing a little bit of Russian roulette,” Zweifler said.

Taylor Long, public information officer with the Fresno County District Attorney Office said, based on statistics released by the coroner’s office, there has been a significant increase in fentanyl related deaths in the last few years in comparison to past years.

Zweifler said during the pandemic opioid overdose related deaths have drastically increased by 15 to 20% each year.

“So yeah, pretty dramatic increase in overdoses during the pandemic,” Zweifler said.

According to Long, most addiction starts during the adolescence years. Addiction affects people as young as teenagers to individuals over the age of 70.

“Trying to quit cold turkey rarely works. Almost zero success rate,” Prichard said.” Access to resources is not difficult to receive and available to everyone.

Naloxone can be picked from a physician, pharmacy or the following locations in Fresno.

– Community Regional Medical Center Emergency Department with no fee or cost.

– Fresno County Department of Public Health.

– Fresno/San Joaquin Needle Exchange by prescription only.

– Parents & Addicts in Need (PAIN).


Krystle Nozartash started as an editor for the Clovis Roundup paper shortly after leaving as editor-in-chief for a college paper. She graduated from Fresno City College with an Associates in Journalism in 2023. She resides in Clovis with her spouse and two Chihuahua mixes Neyo and Tiny. Aside from writing, she enjoys baking and cooking. Her favorite shows to stream are Stranger Things, true crime, and Yellow Jackets.